Just Write ~ The Sixth

October 17, 2011

She doesn’t fit her age, I think. She’s still a sprite of a thing, fast footed through the hall of the house.  Her body is aching these days though, all over she says, but she makes it look easy.  I know it’s not even close to easy. Her arms swing a little at her sides and her posture is better than mine. She heads to the kitchen to get apple crisp ready for us.  I wonder if it hurts her knees or hips to walk and her fingers and wrist to serve up the crisp.

My Grandma, she makes the best apple crisp. And lefse, for the record.

We sit down and look out the window and she tells the story of her half sister, the one she didn’t know until later in life. How their mother had her very young, before she was married, and she was a blue baby. She says, That’s what they called them back then. A blue baby. Everyone at the birth, the doctor and her family, told her mother to let that blue baby die.  But the midwife didn’t give up. She drove miles and miles to a hospital and they saved her. To be found by her sisters later in life. I wonder what the midwife did to keep her alive for all those miles.

After this sister-baby survived, there was an agreement made. An infertile couple would adopt the baby, making payment by giving the mother and her family a restaurant. The restaurant I’ve heard about all these years. The one where my grandparents would one day meet.  My Grandma would grow up working there, not knowing her sister.

It was an uneven exchange–a place for a person.

Grandma sums it up with, Yeah…it’s quite the story. And I wonder if it hurts her heart.

When the story is told, it feels so close. Like I could reach out and touch that blue baby, and in some ways, I am. A picture of her sits behind me on the counter; a recent shot of her with my parents. And then there’s her flesh and blood sister sitting across from me and the way we’re all connected, through stories and veins.

I think about how Elsie came out low on oxygen and was rushed away. She’s sleeping on my chest as Grandma tells me this story and I tuck her closer and wonder aloud how it felt for my Great Grandmother to let her baby girl go…

Wow. That must have been such a weight to carry around…but I suppose your mom just told herself it worked out for the best. I’m half asking.

She scoops up the last of her apple crisp and cream and says yes.

My Grandma has eighty-something years of stories like these; some less heavy, but all her stories just the same. Lately I’ve been asking questions. I want to know it all.


If you don’t read all of this, please be sure to read the BOLD parts…

This is the sixth installment of Just Write, an exercise in free writing your ordinary and extraordinary moments. {Please see the details here.}  I would love to read your freely written words so join me and link up below. You can add the url of your post at any time. Just be sure it’s a link to your Just Write post, not to your main page. Then link back to this post in your post so people know where to go if they’d like to join in. (Any links not following those two guidelines will be deleted.) 

Also. Please take a moment to visit someone else who has linked up! It’s a really good way to meet new writers and get inspired by the meaning behind their moments. Word?

{Psst: One more thing…you can Grab the Button if you’d like. The code is over there on the sidebar. See it?}

Link on up, friends. I’m so glad you’re here! (If you don’t know how, email me and I’ll help! heatheroftheeo (at) gmail (dot) com.)



Jamie October 17, 2011 at 9:41 pm

I just wrote my ‘Just Write’ post and it’s about my Grandma! I just came back from a 2 week visit with her, and I was desperate with trying to soak her all up…
Jamie recently posted..Tell Grandma About It

Elaine October 17, 2011 at 9:59 pm

That’s quite a story indeed. Amazing what we can find out about our family’s history if we just listen. :)
Elaine recently posted..First Thing in the Morning

Galit Breen October 17, 2011 at 10:13 pm

Oh your heart, and your stories, and your words.

You just archived history for so many babies (and their babies) to read.

You’re amazing, you know that right?

Galit Breen recently posted..Writing in the Dark

Kimberly October 17, 2011 at 10:19 pm

I had chills just reading this. I used to soak up every story my grandparents would tell me. It’s amazing the kind of history and bond you form over just listening.
Kimberly recently posted..Favorite Fall Fun

Varda (SquashedMom) October 17, 2011 at 10:32 pm

And how I love your stories. And your Grandma’s stories. Mmmmm. Good stories, well told.
Varda (SquashedMom) recently posted..SOC Sunday: ComiCon Come and Gone

suzannah {so much shouting, so much laughter} October 17, 2011 at 11:37 pm

wow, that is a story. how wonderful to have your grandma to tell you them still. it’s crazy what come out matter of fact and the shadowy corners we didn’t think were there. and the glimpses of grace.

you are a lovely hostess:)
suzannah {so much shouting, so much laughter} recently posted..in praise of a faith without litmus tests

charrette October 18, 2011 at 1:13 am

A place for a person. Uneven exchange indeed. Powerful thoughts, powerful story. I’m amazed at the resilience of your grandmother.
charrette recently posted..My Book Group Went All Stream-of-Consciousness On Me

Tracie October 18, 2011 at 1:27 am

Every time I talk to my grandma I find myself asking her for her stories. I want to soak them in and hold them close. Little pieces of her life.

How sad and scary it must have been for your great-grandma to have to give up her baby. It is wonderful that all those years later she was reunited with your family. It is a blessing that your grandma shares all her stories, the light and the dark. Little pieces of her life.
Tracie recently posted..Asking For Prayers

Courtney @ The Mommy Matters October 18, 2011 at 1:58 am

Some of my fondest memories in life are of listening to my sweet grandmother talk about life and what it was like for her growing up. She was the oldest of 7 kids and when her mother found out she was pregnant with the 8th, my grandma heaved a heavy sigh and made a comment about dreading having to take care of another baby (since she was raising her little brothers and sisters as it was). The 8th baby died upon delivery and that haunted her the rest of her life. They are such wise souls with such stories to tell.
Courtney @ The Mommy Matters recently posted..Having Someone is Enough

Erica@PLRH October 18, 2011 at 5:32 am

Oh my gosh, this gave me chills. The stories that are folded into our family histories. Oh my.
Erica@PLRH recently posted..Just Write

Krista October 18, 2011 at 6:02 am

Oh my. What a wonderful story. It makes me want to go spend more time with my grandparents.

Christine@Coffees & Commutes October 18, 2011 at 6:24 am

This makes me ache. Every word.
Christine@Coffees & Commutes recently posted..Shaken

Bridget October 18, 2011 at 7:13 am

I miss my Mama Jo so, so much. But I am grateful that I still have my other grandparents, all of whom love to tell their stories. And I love to listen…
Bridget recently posted..The Things We Do

Busy Bee Suz October 18, 2011 at 7:16 am

Oh, I love this. The stories from our grandparents are always the best…even when the story itself is heartbreaking and deep.
I just lost my g’ma a few years ago (she was 96) I treasure all the family stories that she told me and wish I had more.
Busy Bee Suz recently posted..Weekend Smeekend.

Kathleen Basi October 18, 2011 at 7:24 am

This is so heart-wrenching. It reminds me of Kim Edwards’ book “The Memory Keeper’s Daughter.” Such a different world now than it was a couple of generations ago.

Adventures In Babywearing October 18, 2011 at 7:35 am

Oh, just chills all over!

Adventures In Babywearing recently posted..the leaves all dance

Elizabeth @claritychaos October 18, 2011 at 7:41 am

So powerful. I wish I had more time to hear my Grandpa’s stories. I have one grandmother left, and what a gift to just sit and listen and ask questions. This is amazing, Heather.

I’m linking a post today even though I wrote it a couple days ago. It fits the ‘Just write’ bill though, so I figured what the heck.

Elizabeth @claritychaos recently posted..full

Cheryl October 18, 2011 at 7:41 am

They were blue babies when I was young too. I was lucky enough to have known all my grandparents. Their stories, some tougher to hear than others, were a gift I’ll always treasure.

Beautiful piece, Heather.
Cheryl recently posted..Rocks and hard places

Amy @ Never-True Tales October 18, 2011 at 7:52 am

That is one crazy-amazing story. The things people live with…and most of us never know. Stunning.
Amy @ Never-True Tales recently posted..Another post on shoe tying

suzanne @ pretty swell October 18, 2011 at 8:08 am

My first free writing challenge. I absolutely loved this! Thanks, Heather, for providing the space … and such beautiful inspiration.
suzanne @ pretty swell recently posted..At the grocery store

Marta October 18, 2011 at 8:15 am

What an amazing story. I would love to hear more of your grandma’s stories — keep asking!
Marta recently posted..A Mother’s Take on #OccupyWallstreet

HopefulLeigh October 18, 2011 at 8:32 am

Your grandmother’s story is incredible! Keep asking questions and keep writing it down. There are so many things I’d like to ask my Grandma now or that I swore I wouldn’t forget.
HopefulLeigh recently posted..Facing the Unwanted

molly October 18, 2011 at 8:40 am

It’s so strange how sometimes we assume that much older generations never had any drama. My grandparents had such drama. Marriage, affairs, divorce, re-marriage, new life, miscarriages and even a stillborn baby.

My Landon was born blue and not breathing with an Apgar score of 2. We didn’t know if he would live. So yes, this story resonates with me. I always hug him a little tighter when I think of his dramatic birth.
molly recently posted..he’s just shy

Robin Dance ~ PENSIEVE October 18, 2011 at 10:04 am


Secretly I’ve been wanting to join since you began. **I feel SO unworthy** among a host of lovely writers, but today I couldn’t help myself. My babygirl is home from college FOR THE STINKIN’ FIRST TIME SINCE SHE LEFT IN AUGUST…and I can’t help but be inspired. THANK YOU for hosting.

And…this story of yours. What…a…story. So beautiful. Wonderfully told. And a perfect tribute to a precious life.
Robin Dance ~ PENSIEVE recently posted..The satisfaction of morsels and crumbs

Ann October 18, 2011 at 12:24 pm

This is extraordinarily beautiful you know. Oh my goodness. You put a frog in my throat.
Ann recently posted..Ann’s Audition Voyage

Issa October 18, 2011 at 1:50 pm

This was beautiful Heather. Touching and wonderful.

Ask, ask and ask some more. Because it’s hard to ask when they are gone. I lost all of mine in my 20’s. Before I thought to ask enough.
Issa recently posted..How different my kids are: take 2

denise October 18, 2011 at 2:07 pm

Oh Grandmothers. Mine both died when I was 21. Unfortunately, I wasn’t at an inspired-enough age to ask questions.

I’m so very glad that you have yours and ask you do. xo
denise recently posted..Blossoming Grace

Erin October 18, 2011 at 2:10 pm

Isn’t it amazing how the most ordinary people living their ordinary lives have the most incredible stories? Thank you for sharing this. :)
Erin recently posted..Past, Present, Future

Kristin October 18, 2011 at 2:15 pm

My grandmother, the only grandmother I ever had, passed away in July. She was almost 92 and she lived the last 8 years of her life with Alzheimers. The further the disease ingratiated itself in her life, the less she remembered of me, of her son ( my dad), of her life. I only know a fragment of her life; she lived in another state and we didn’t see each other often when I was a kid. It makes me so sad that I don’t know enough about her to pass on to my kids, but I am certainly making sure that my kiddos know about their grandparents so they aren’t left with the same void that I am.
Kristin recently posted..Just Write

Gianna October 18, 2011 at 2:16 pm

Heather, I couldn’t figure out how to delete my first linky. AUGH! Sometimes, computers!!!! Sorry to create a big mess.

And I love that you want to soak in your grandma. I wish I had. Now they are gone.
Gianna recently posted..Living in Retail World

MJ from iNeedaPlaydate October 18, 2011 at 3:37 pm

Your words are so intimate and sweet as you weave your story. This is my first time linking up.
MJ from iNeedaPlaydate recently posted..Insomnia by any Other Name is Still Insomnia

Christa October 18, 2011 at 4:24 pm

Dear Heather,

Thank you. For sharing your stories, for inspiring us, for being so real and so wonderful all at once.

Thank you.

Love to you…
Christa recently posted..what I don’t know…

Brittany October 18, 2011 at 11:03 pm

This is my first post on just write! I don’t know what the point was, but here it is!


Krishann October 19, 2011 at 12:23 am

I have had major blog issues and after I couldn’t post it this morning was going to hold off on sharing my post for this week but I decided to go ahead and link up! :)

It is often so touching simply hearing the stories of our grandparents. I love that you listen. There are so many amazing stories that go unheard because no one takes the time to listen…

Erin October 19, 2011 at 9:19 am

My heart. To think you’re losing your baby, that she was born still, only to have her survive… and then to gather the courage to let her go again. I cannot imagine.
Erin recently posted..He is, I am, We are

tracy@sellabitmum October 19, 2011 at 12:47 pm

When my grandma died I thought of all the stories she never finished for me…so yes, ask them all now. xo
tracy@sellabitmum recently posted..What I Wore Wednesday – Field Trip Chaperone Fashion

Helen October 20, 2011 at 2:20 pm

I am impressed with mid wife’s dedication to save your grandmother. Was she ever found, identified and thanked? I like the story. It is inspiring how your grandmother grew strong and well loved by so many. Though I feel sad about the situation, it is great that your grandmother met her parents and half sister.
Helen recently posted..how to flirt with a girl

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